You’ve heard the expression “Happy wife, happy life,” right? Although it sounds a little silly — and maybe more than a little sexist — there’s actually some truth to the idea behind it. People with happy spouses, in fact, tend to live longer.
If you want to extend your years, science says that you should encourage your partner’s happiness.
Sometimes, though, that’s easier said than done.
Life gets busy. Work is demanding. Kids are high-maintenance.
And before you know it, you and your partner are constantly being pulled in opposite directions. The less you see of each other and the more stressed you are, the easier it is to be short-tempered and irritable when you do get together.
Reversing that trend requires planning and purpose.
Date nights are opportunities to leave the mundane aspects of daily life behind for a few hours. You can trade in chores for fun activities and reconnect with your partner while you’re at it.
Once upon a time, you may have wined and dined each other at fancy restaurants. These days, your budget might not have space for luxury dinners.
Fortunately, date nights don’t have to be pricey events. With some creativity, you can have more fun for less money. Outdoor activities make for some of the cheapest dates. As the weather gets warmer, seize the opportunity to enjoy a low-cost evening with your loved one.
Your relationship — and possibly even your lifespan — is sure to benefit from intentional one-on-one time.
Looking for ideas? Here are 9 great low-cost date night options for warmer weather.
If you usually spend your evenings with eyes glued on your own separate devices, turn your sights to the heavens for a night instead. The romance of a stargazing session may rekindle the excitement you felt during the early days of your relationship.
All you really need for this date is a blanket and each other. You’ll get the best views if you drive to a secluded park away from city lights, but even your own backyard can do the trick. To help you identify constellations, download a free stargazing app ahead of time. Or you could make up your own if you’re feeling inspired.
#2) Friendly competition
If you and your spouse love games and have a competitive streak, embrace it with a little friendly competition. That might include activities like axe throwing, fishing or even archery. But if you’re looking for something a little less intense, try mini golf.
Tee times at a posh golf course can cost a pretty penny, but miniature golf courses offer big fun at a fraction of the price. Mini golf is much less serious than the real thing, so feel free to let your hair down and be silly.
Research suggests that couples who share moments of genuine laughter feel closer to one another.
#3) Walking tours (spooky or not)
Keep in mind that date night doesn’t always have to happen at night. If you’re in a busy phase of life, it’s best to squeeze in time together whenever you can get it. That might be a Friday afternoon or a Monday morning depending on your schedule.
A daytime date is a great opportunity to play tourists in your own city.
Your area may be packed with interesting landmarks that you’ve never really explored. Do a little research to learn about local attractions. Then map out a walking path through town to visit them. For a less DIY option, join a pay-what-you-can tour group led by a knowledgeable guide.
Lots of cities have variations on a walking tour, including ghost tours at night or other themed events.
These might be pricey, but discount sites like Groupon or LivingSocial may have coupons to cut the cost. You might also check with your city’s local tourism bureau (if it has one) for deals on passes and other discounts.
#4) Local fairs, festivals & farmers markets
Spring and summer bring plenty of fresh produce to the table — literally. It’s the time of year when farmers markets open in many parts of the country, so now’s a great time to check out your local market on a lazy weekend.
You won’t find much fresher food than what’s available at your local farmers market.
Make a date to leisurely browse the stalls with your love. Pick out some old favorite fruits and veggies, but try to stretch yourselves, too. Search for at least one thing that neither of you has tried before, or go on a scavenger hunt for as many items of a certain color as you can find.
Your date doesn’t have to end once the shopping is over.
Afterward, head home for some teamwork in the kitchen. You can either cook dinner together using your new ingredients or wash and chop the produce for grab-and-go snacks.
This same idea applies to other local outdoor festivities, like fairs and festivals, which tend to be more popular as the weather warms up and the sun sets later in the sky. Catch an evening outdoor concert, for instance, or check social media for a roundup of free or low-cost events where you live.
#5) Fitness challenges
If you’re ready to stretch your legs and get in shape, think about doing it with your partner. Research suggests that people perform better during exercise if they have a workout buddy. Plus, evening runs with your partner can provide opportunities to chat as you warm up and cool back down.
Give yourself the motivation to keep up with your running habit by signing up for a local race together. These events usually have reasonable entrance fees, and the proceeds often benefit charitable causes. Start with something small, like a 5k, if you’re new to the activity, and see where your training takes you.
#6) Paddle boating
Buying a sailboat may be out of your price range, but you can still enjoy a day on the water. Many parks rent paddle boats by the hour. Check local parks that have lakes or large ponds to see if they offer rental programs.
Paddle boating isn’t exactly easy, but it can certainly be fun.
You’ll have to work together to get the boat where you want it to go. When one of you gets tired, the other can pick up the slack for a bit. Once you both run out of leg power, sit back, relax and let the currents take you where they will. (Just be sure to pedal back to shore before your rental time expires!)
If paddling a boat sounds like too much work, consider renting other equipment for a day out and about. Some cities or recreation departments offer everything from bicycles to kayaks, so check to see if the parks where you live have interesting options.
#7) A picnic for grownups
Coaxing picky toddlers to eat and cleaning spilled milk off the floor can be exhausting. Give yourself a break from the monotonous routine of feeding small children by scheduling an adults-only meal.
A grown-up dinner doesn’t have to be fancy, either.
Instead, opt for a simple picnic. Pack a basket with easy finger foods or deli salads and spread out a soft blanket on the ground.
If you can schedule a sitter, whisk yourselves away to a nearby park for a truly relaxing dinner. If not, a picnic blanket laid in the backyard after the kids go to bed will do just fine for this fuss-free date.
If you find that you and your partner seem to be cranky with one another lately, it might be time for a hike through the woods.
Hanging out in a wooded area could improve your mood and lower your stress. Spending time among the trees also increases your focus and concentration. You may find that truly listening to one another comes easier when you’re immersed in nature.
You can probably find trail options in county, state or national parks near you. But for a more private experience, ask friends who own wooded properties if you can spend an afternoon exploring their land.
#9) Play at the beach
With waves for splashing and stretches of sand for getting some sun, the beach is a natural playground. More importantly, research indicates that beach days are good for your mental health.
Time near the water can bring stress levels down a notch and usher in feelings of peace and relaxation. Whether you’re busy professionals or harried parents, a waterfront stroll could be the ticket to relationship renewal.
On your next beach date, engage your inner child in some creative sandcastle construction. Challenge your partner to a contest to see who can build the tallest or fanciest structure. No matter who takes home the prize, your relationship will be the real winner of the day.